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PROM/SE: Promoting Rigorous Outcomes in Mathematics and Science Education
Research & Results

The PROM/SE Research Report

The PROM/SE Research Report series highlights key findings from the PROM/SE data collected from nearly 60 participating school districts in Michigan and Ohio.

Scroll down to read a summary of each issue or to dowload an issue.

  • Making the Grade: Fractions in Your Schools, vol 1, May 2006 (PDF)
    Summary: Using PROM/SE student achievement data in seven subtest areas to highlight learning in grades 3-12, key findings emerging from the data show that large numbers of students are not learning foundational fractions such as equivalent fractions and common denominators, making later success in more advanced mathematics difficult. Further analysis found in the report suggests that third grade is a crucial time for teaching and learning foundational concepts.
  • Knowing Mathematics: What We Can Learn from Teachers, vol 2, Dec 2006 (PDF)
    Summary: The report highlights data collected from over 4,100 K-12 teachers in nearly 60 participating school districts in Michigan and Ohio. PROM/SE surveyed K-12 mathematics teachers about their knowledge of mathematics for teaching and how they acquired it. Key findings reveal significant differences among grade bands and in participating districts in teachers' feelings of preparedness to teach nearly 50 mathematics topics. Data reveal that elementary and middle school teachers do not feel well prepared to teach higher math topics which most likely impacts their ability to lay critical foundations for their students' later, higher math success. Long-term and systematic solutions for K-12 districts, professional development, and teacher preparation programs are discussed. Key recommendations for districts are provided, including: recognizing that teachers need professional development that focuses on specific topics in the mathematics school curriculum to offer them a deep understanding of these topics; assigning the most mathematically sophisticated teachers to foundational high school courses such as first year algebra; and creating induction programs for beginning teachers that emphasize the teaching of specific mathematics content.
  • Dividing Opportunities: Tracking in High School Mathematics, vol 3, May 2008 (PDF)
  • Dividing Opportunities: Tracking in High School Science, vol 4, June 2008 (PDF)
    Summary: “Dividing Opportunities: Tracking in High School Mathematics” and “Dividing Opportunities: Tracking in High School Science” examine the extent of tracking in the 30 high schools that are part of PROM/SE. These schools represent over 14,000 seniors from nearly 18 districts. The reports reveal startling facts: 1) PROM/SE districts offer an incredibly large number of distinct high school math and science course titles and there is substantial variation across districts. For math, the number of courses offered by districts varied from 10 to 58. For science, the number varied from 7 to 55. 2) Analysis of the 14,000 students’ course selections and the order in which they took these courses showed the number of sequences varies appreciably by district. For math, there were over 200 distinct course math sequences in some districts while in others there were less than 30. Most districts had closer to 60 sequences. For science, sequences ranged from over 100 to less than 30, with most districts closer to 50. 3) Though there are not overt curricular tracks, the large number and types of math and science courses offered implies that many students are encountering wildly discrepant learning opportunities within and across districts.
  • Variation Across Districts in Intended Topic Coverage: Mathematics, vol 5, March 2009 (PDF)
    Summary: This report explores the extent to which implementing curriculum at the local level has created mathematics curriculum standards (grade level learning expectations) with vastly different learning expectations that in turn undermines any ‘intent’ to provide to all students an equal opportunity to learn mathematics. Given the cumulative nature of knowledge, especially in mathematics, differences in learning opportunities lost at a specific grade may not be gained at a later time. These disparities are not just experienced by children who live in poverty. This affects children who live in wealthy suburbs that surround urban areas as well. Data from across districts nationally are examined.
  • Opportunities to Learn in PROM/SE Classrooms: Teachers’ Reported Coverage of Mathematics Content, vol 6, April 2009 (PDF)
    Summary: This report examines the pattern of reported mathematics content coverage in elementary grades classrooms in the PROM/SE districts. In these PROM/SE districts about 2625 teachers (about 525 teachers at each of the five grade levels) reported on their mathematics content coverage. Our results indicate that there is great variation across classrooms in the mathematics content coverage, suggesting the presence of enormous inequalities in opportunities to learn mathematics content. This surprising variability extends not only between districts but also across the hallway within the same school.
  • Content Coverage and the Role of Instructional Leadership, vol 7, June 2009 (PDF)
    Summary: This study examines the variation in reported science content coverage among 53 PROM/SE districts in Michigan and Ohio. Variation is also described among schools within participating districts and among classrooms within the same school. Data point to extensive variation in the amount of time allocated to science instruction at district, school, and classroom levels across elementary and middle grades. In a subset of 5 adjacent school districts, striking variation is noted in coverage of topics addressed as compared to the science curriculum of high achieving TIMSS countries. Similarly notable variability is found in the number of instructional days devoted to science topics in schools within the same district and in classrooms within the same school. Findings reflect the importance of instructional leadership at all levels of the educational system to ensure that district intentions and school-level implementation are aligned in promoting coherent and consistent enactment of rigorous standards. The need for strong instructional leadership by district superintendents as well as building principals is discussed in detail.

www.promse.msu.edu. PROM/SE is funded by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement No. EHR-0314866.